A lot of today’s deer hunters over-think the process. Months and months spent patterning bucks and placing stands where you expect a certain deer to travel can pay off — but so can walking out into the woods and sitting on a stump.
As gun season gets under way, many more hunters will venture into the whitetail woods. This increase in hunters doesn’t go unnoticed by the deer. Many flee areas they’ve been spending a majority of their time in. My point is this: If you want to maximize your chances of killing a deer during the gun season, concentrate on hunting in areas through which you think deer on the move will pass.
Natural funnels are areas through which deer pass because of being somehow directed that way. Think of an actual funnel. There’s a lot of room at the top to come in, but the exit is very small. Your chance of being in the right place increases as the size of the travel area decreases.
Some natural funnel areas include a small strip of woods connecting two larger wood lots, river bottoms and fence lines. Deer, especially mature bucks, do not like to walk in the open. If they can stay inside of or stick tight to cover, in most cases they will. Any place where two funnels merge likely will be a good spot to hunt.
Imagine a wooded river bottom running through an agricultural field. Deer travel the river inside the cover. Now picture a finger of woods jutting from the bottoms that connects to a chunk of timber. Where that finger meets the river bottom is the place to be because two funnels are merging.
In my opinion, the best tool hunters have at their disposal is aerial photography. Google maps and Google Earth make this super easy to obtain. By looking over the area you hunt from above, you should quickly be able to pick out any potentially high traffic areas. Look at your neighbors’ properties, too. Think like a deer. If you were bedded up on the neighbor’s place and were spooked, where would you run to escape danger? How would you travel through theproperty?
Which brings us back to the increase in hunters that are going to be out in the woods. You have to consider how their presence is going to effect deer movement. When the hunters around you walk into the woods before light, some of them will bump deer. Where do you think those deer will go? Try to be there.
Also, most hunters aren’t going to sit all day. The majority will hang in there until 9 or 10 in the morning and then come back out in the afternoon and sit until dark. You should be in your stand when all this movement is taking place. Surely some deer will get kicked up, and maybe a few of them will run by you.
I’m not saying to throw your scouting and all your plans out the window come gun season. I’m just saying that the best bet for my time is to be in a spot where I believe a lot of deer will travel through, especially if other hunters spook them.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturday in the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.